Aging in place is a relatively new term to describe design components that allow you to grow older in your own home comfortably and safely. Your shower can be both accessible AND a work of art with a little forethought and attention during the design process.
Below is a list of modifications to consider for the shower if you want the option to stay put in your home in your later years. It makes sense to incorporate these suggestions when you build a new home or renovate an old one even if you do not yet need the accessible features.
Curbless Showers A curbless shower provides a safe and easy way to transition in and out of the shower, particularly for those with mobility issues. This accessible type of shower design also means cleaner lines in the bathroom with less visual clutter and fewer nooks and crannies to clean.
A structural drop in the floor framing to accommodate the shower slope is essential and must be considered early on in the project. In addition, the drain trough should be sloped in both directions to direct water to the drain line in the center. We recommend you hire a professional contractor who understands the engineering principles involved in constructing a barrier-free shower.
Grab Bars Grab bars in the bathroom no longer scream disability. An assortment of stylish and sleek designs are available these days which will come in handy as you age such as the example to the right from Great Grabz. Ensure proper plywood blocking inside the wall is in place before you install the grab bars for support.
Bathroom Benches You don’t need to be elderly or disabled to appreciate a bench in the shower. Instead of installing a weighty shower bench in your walk-in shower, opt for a sleek floating seat that doesn’t clutter up the interior. Many beautiful portable benches are available for purchase who do not want to commit to a built in bench.
Handheld Shower Faucet A shower that provides both a shower head and a handheld shower is an important addition in an accessible shower. A proper shower diverter makes it easy to redirect the water flow from one to the other. This accessibility feature is another that people seem to love and many do not wait until the functionality is necessary. In terms of aging in place, install the handheld shower close to your bench for when you need to sit while showering. We recommend the hose for the handheld be a minimum of 60 inches.
Shower Controls Locate the controls where the operator can use them without getting wet to prevent being accidentally scalded with hot water. Additionally, anti-scald mixing valves to maintain a safe water temperature and volume when there are water pressure changes will prevent burns. Limit the temperature in the tub and shower to 120 degrees.
Shower Lighting Overhead lights in the shower are a good idea to help prevent falls. Choose recessed lighting or an interesting wet location fixture to provide a personal touch. A clear glass shower door in place of a curtain also provides additional light and works to minimize falls.
Towel Shelf or Hook Install a shelf or hook to keep a towel within easy reach to allow you to dry off before exiting the shower. This will prevent wet floors and minimize the risk of falling. Excellent idea for all!
KES SOLID METAL Swivel Hook Heavy Duty Folding Swing Arm Triple Coat Hook with Multi Three Foldable Arms Towel/Clothes Hanger for Bathroom Kitchen Garage Wall Mount Brushed Nickel, A5060-2
Nonslip Floor A nonslip floor is one of the most important items to address in the shower to prevent falls. A beautiful textured tile is a great choice.